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Four million more people living below an ‘adequate income’

Millions of just about managing families are on the ‘tipping point’ of falling into poverty, warns think tank.

New research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has revealed the number of individuals living below the Minimum Income Standard (MIS) has risen by four million to 19 million between 2008/9 – 2014/5.

MIS is a benchmark of income adequacy, as defined by what the public think is needed for a decent living standard. It is calculated by the Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP) at Loughborough University.

Out of the 19 million people living below the MIS, 11 million are ‘far short’ of it with incomes below 75% of the standard, JRF found.

JRF’s research shows that many just about managing families - or JAMs - are at risk of falling into poverty as prices rise in the shops and the cost of living, which is predicted to be 10% higher in 2020, increases.

This rise in the cost of living is also compounded by stagnating incomes.

‘These stark figures show just how precarious life can be for many families,’ said Campbell Robb, chief executive at JRF.

‘Government focus on people on modest incomes is welcome, but it cannot be at the expense of those at the poorest end of the income scale: it must remember just about managing today can become poverty tomorrow.’

‘This could be a very difficult time for just managing families as rising inflation begins to bite into finely-balanced budgets,’ he continued.

‘The high cost of living has already helped push four million more people below an adequate income, and if the cost of essentials such as food, energy and housing rise further, we need to take action to ease the strain.

‘The Government can help in next month’s Budget by allowing families to keep more of their earnings and ensuring benefits and tax credits keep up with the rising cost of living.’